Anyone who saw the summer biopic Straight Outta Compton, which detailed the rise of legendary hip-hop group N.W.A., knows that their management received a lot of the blame for the group's eventual break-up.
In the film, which was billed as "The true story behind one of rap's most iconic groups," Jerry Heller, played by Paul Giamatti, is portrayed as decided villain. Seen as a sort of slimy manager eating lavish dinners on the group's dime and talking them into bad contracts, the film doesn't paint him in the best light.
As a result, Heller has filed a lawsuit for defamation that names Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, the estate of Eazy-E, NBC Universal, and other parties associated with the move, according to early TMZ reporting. He also claims to not have authorized use of his image or likeness.
The issue at hand is likely a symptom of making a biopic about subjects who are still living. It's especially understandable when it's a movie like Straight Outta Compton, which works around several contentious topics. Without Eazy-E's voice available to be a part of the creation of the film, the fact that it was executive produced by two artists with well-detailed issues with Heller make the depiction and subsequent lawsuit somewhat understandable and not unexpected.
It is currently being reported that Heller is suing for $35 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages, as well as all profits from the movie. Good luck, Jerry.
We'll have to wait and see how this plays out, but for now it looks like Dre, Cube and the rest of the squad better lawyer up fast.
[by Jake Krez, who's still working on his biopic. You can follow him on Twitter.]